July 5, 2017

Well-deserved recognition

TATE revamped its process, theater community approves

by Alicia Chesser, The Tulsa Voice

A costume designer bedecked in black with a giant red flower in her hair. A dashing teen actor with a spectacular afro. A lighting designer in jeans, who was present at the creation of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Wild crew? Yeah. They’re part of the vast and varied theater community that makes an immense, and often unrecognized, contribution to Tulsa’s arts scene, its economic development, and quality of life.
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March 30, 2017

Religion has nothing to do with Theatre Pops’ ‘Last Days of Judas Iscariot’

Despite the title, there is nothing religious about the play and is recommended for mature audiences

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

It took Rick Harrelson a long time just to get past the title of Theatre Pops’ latest production.

“I grew up in a very religious, Southern Baptist family,” Harrelson said.
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February 16, 2017

‘Wild’ in the aisles: Theatre Pops puts audience in the action

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

The last show Theatre Pops presented at the IDL Ballroom wasn’t meant to be an example of immersive, interactive theater.
But that was what the audiences seemed to want.
That show was “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” in which actress Kelli McLoud-Shingen portrayed singer Billie Holliday.

“We did this as a dinner theater show, to re-create the feeling of a nightclub performance,” said Meghan Hurley, Theatre Pops artistic director.
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October 6, 2016

Actor goes ‘all the way’ to play LBJ in Theatre Pops production

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

Journalist Bill Moyers, who worked as an assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, once described his former boss as “13 of the most interesting and difficult men I ever met.”
And that is one reason why, for Tulsa actor Timothy Hunter, playing Johnson in the play “All the Way” is such a challenge and delight.
“All the Way,” by Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Schenkkan, won the Tony Award for best play in 2014, and earned star Bryan Cranston a Tony for his portrayal of Johnson.
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August 25, 2016

Theatre Pops presents ‘Heathers: The Musical’

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

Every so often, Jana Ellis catches herself singing aloud one of the songs from “Heathers: The Musical.”
“And I always stop myself,” she said, laughing, “because some of the catchiest songs in this show are about some of the naughtiest things. But that’s kind of the point of ‘Heathers’ — it’s one of those shows that will make you laugh at the most horrible things.”
That’s the reaction Ellis had when she saw the original “Heathers,” the 1988 film starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater.
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April 21, 2016

Director Frank Gallagher finds life, values on the 918 stage

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

After some 20 years of being immersed in local theater, Frank Gallagher suddenly found himself without a stage.
Gallagher had served as the technical director of the theater program at Oral Roberts University before joining the staff of the theater programs under the city’s Park Department — the youth theater company Clark Theatre and the adult-oriented Heller Theatre.
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April 17, 2016

Arts Scene: ‘Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them’

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

A woman named Felicity has some serious doubts about Zamir, the man she married after an evening of way too much alcohol.
Zamir claims to be Irish, but he does have a predilection for hair-trigger violence — and then there are all those midnight soirees he makes. It could be that Zamir is a terrorist. Or maybe he’s just insane. Or both.
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February 11, 2016

Actress brings Lady Day to life in new production

A childhood fan will play the iconic singer in Theatre Pops’ show.

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

For Billie Holliday, singing was living.
“That’s something she talked about a lot,” Kelli McLoud-Schingen said. “She didn’t necessarily mean singing on stage but just singing. I came across a recording of her, as she was talking and singing with some friends in someone’s living room, and I was just struck by the freedom and comfort in her voice.”
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February 9, 2016

Spend Valentine’s Day With ‘Lady Day’ At Tulsa’s IDL Ballroom

KOTV, News Channel 6

Theatre Pops is putting on some very special performances of Lady Day this weekend at the Tulsa IDL Ballroom. 
The show recreates a performance by Billie Holiday in 1959 – just four months before the legend’s death.  The musical theater performances will include jazz, a dinner and drinks.  It will run from February 11 to 14. Tickets are $15 online and $20 at the door.
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February 7, 2016

Arts Scene: ‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill’

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

In March 1959, Billie Holliday gave one of her last performances at a seedy south Philadelphia watering hole called Emerson’s Bar & Grill.
Playwright Lanie Robertson’s reimagining of that performance, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” blends some of Holliday’s best-known songs into a monologue in which she recounts the story of her life, which seemed to be guided by the willfulness depicted in her song, “T’ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do.”
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October 4, 2015

Arts Scene: Theatre Pops’ ‘All New People’

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

The last thing one needs when trying to commit suicide is to be interrupted by someone wanting to show your soon-to-be-vacated apartment to potential buyers.
That is how “All New People,” the black comedy by actor-writer Zach Braff (“Scrubs”), begins. Charlie (Rick Harrelson) is despondent, yet the interloping agent (Meghan Hurley) is convinced that her arrival is the result of divine intervention.
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August 16, 2015

Arts Scene: “Spamalot”

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

Of all the characters that appear in “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” maybe the most coveted is the role of Sir Not Appearing in This Production.
Theatre Pops has elevated this close-to-nonexistent role by showcasing a variety of local personalities in brief cameos.
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August 8, 2015

Theatre Pops serves up silliness in ‘Spamalot’

“Monty Python’s Spamalot” is the company’s first musical production.

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

Anyone who doesn’t believe the theatrical adage that “Dying is easy, comedy is hard,” hasn’t been involved in a production of “Monty Python’s Spamalot.”
At least, that’s what director Jana Ellis has come to realize since she began work on Theatre Pops’ upcoming production of this musical comedy.
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August 2, 2015

Arts Scene: ‘Spamalot’ from Theatre Pops prompts Monty Python-themed drink, food specials

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

The Knights of the Round Table — at least, according to the jolly song they sing in the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” — pass the time in Camelot by eating “ham and jam and Spam a lot.”
You can understand why King Arthur regards Camelot thusly: “’Tis a silly place.”
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June 22, 2015

TATE awards honor Tulsa theater community

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

Theatre Pops’ production of Tulsa native Tracy Letts’ epic drama “August: Osage County” won the award for Outstanding Play at the 2014-15 Tulsa Awards for Theater Excellence ceremony, held Sunday night at Cain’s Ballroom.
The award earned Theatre Pops a cash prize of $10,000. It is the second straight year that Theatre Pops has won at the TATE awards — its production of “Seminar” was the third-place winner last year.
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April 12, 2015

Arts Scene: Theatre Pops ‘Bard Fiction’ blends Tarantino with Shakespeare

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

“Is this a Royale with Cheese which I see before me? Oh, that this too, too solid flesh should’st be rent asunder by fiery blasts of bullets!”
If that’s not the way you remember these quotes from Shakespeare, then brace yourself for Theatre Pops’ “Bard Fiction.”
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February 15, 2015

Arts Scene: ‘Venus in Fur’ is another shade of sexy

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

“50 Shades of Grey” may have has stirred up all sorts of talk about men and women, sexuality and power. But the book that really started this conversation was “Venus in Furs,” an 1870 novella by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch — the man who unwittingly gave us the term “masochism.”
Playwright David Ives took Sacher-Masoch’s novella as the basis for his play “Venus in Fur,” which Theatre Pops will present this weekend.
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January 8, 2015

‘August: Osage County’ director talks about Theatre Pops’ production

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

When Meghan Hurley first came up with the idea of Theatre Pops presenting “August: Osage County,” all she really knew about Tracy Letts’ award-winning play was its title.
“I’m one of those people who, if something is getting a lot of hype and praise, I tend to avoid it because I don’t want to be disappointed if things don’t live up to the hype,” Hurley said.
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January 4, 2015

Arts Scene: Theatre Pops’ “August: Osage County”

by James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World

The last time “August: Osage County” played Tulsa, it was January 2010, when the Broadway touring production starring Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons came to the Tulsa PAC.
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